6 Minutes Of Horror: 'The Visitor' Will Creep You The F*#k Out

De4thrace is the new mixed media project from VHS Or Beta co-founder Mark Palgy, combining dark sounds with spooky visuals. De4thrace’s latest offering is ‘The Visitor,’ a track which serves as the score to a short horror film Palgy shot during the pandemic. Cell Vision co-founder Prince Terrence spoke to Palgy about the new project, the horror film/soundtrack connection, and Palgy’s love for candy corn.

words and interview by Prince Terrence

photos by Mickie Winters, video excerpts from 'The Visitor'

De4thrace is the dark multimedia project of seasoned musician Mark Palgy. The Louisville native is a bassist and founding member of the electronic dance group VHS or BETA, who has also worked with numerous other acts in music production, remixing and scoring, most recently touring with singer Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters. With De4thrace, Palgy has now entered the darkside. De4thrace is a mixed media project created to explore and experiment with new musical territories and modes of releasing music. It’s meditation music for the dark and hollow soul. Soothingly abrasive and trancy, De4thrace sounds like the perfect accompaniment for a horror film.

Not coincidentally, just in time for Halloween, Palgy is releasing The Visitor, a film he scored and directed himself, writing in collaboration with his wife, Lindsey Palgy. Shot in desolate, rural Kentucky during the coronavirus pandemic, The Visitor is an eerie 6 minutes and 40 second vision of an extraordinarily eerie encounter with... let’s just say a very familiar face in an unfamiliar place. All the while the level of dread and anxiety is accentuated by the pulsating, sonic fear of De4thrace.

The bond between horror films and their equally-haunting scores goes back for decades. Dario Argento, who is known for the 1977 horror film Suspiria, frequently enlisted the Italian progressive rock band, Goblin for his soundtracks. Without the spine-chilling, suspenseful soundtrack, the films just wouldn’t hit the same. With this new project Mark Palgy the director is able to tap into his rich musical talents and create the perfect accompaniment for his own horrific visions.

CELL VISION: De4thrace is a fairly new project for you. Coming off the heels of your previous band VHS or Beta and more recently playing for Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters, how did you transition from up-beat and dancey to major dark experimental vibes? Is this a new path or something that you’ve always been wanting to express musically?

MARK PALGY: I’ve been making dance music for a couple decades (still am!) and while I love making it and performing live, I’m also getting older and more curious about other forms of expression. With De4thrace I wanted to have an outlet all to myself to experiment or try whatever the hell I want at that particular moment. I’ve been a collaborator all my life, so having a thing all to myself has been an interesting challenge. Some of the music is dark, and that comes natural to me for some reason, but I really like trying to be as psychedelic as possible. This thing keeps moving and morphing and I’m loving the freedom of it all. I’ve been calling De4thrace a mixed media project, which leaves the door open to try new stuff.

"With De4thrace I wanted to have an outlet all to myself to experiment or try whatever the hell I want at that particular moment. I’ve been a collaborator all my life, so having a thing all to myself has been an interesting challenge."

CELL VISION: How did the concept of directing and acting in a short film while providing the accompanying soundtrack come to fruition?

MARK PALGY: During the pandemic I was completely lost. The music industry was down indefinitely and I found myself with way too much time to think about shit. Right before lockdown I was getting some work scoring short indie and student films which was so much fun. Then that stopped. Something was eating at me to make my own thing and not let the pandemic or “the industry” stop me from working, as I was experiencing HUGE bouts of creativity which I didn’t want to squander. I was making tons of music at home, as I have for years, but there was a tune that made me want to put a story behind it. Luckily my wife is an actress and writer, and made me able to see it on paper as well as mentally. I wasn’t intentionally writing something for me to be in, but it sort of ended up that way because I think subconsciously it was/is me? Then I texted Cory Popp (co producer and director of photography) and the rest came together in a way I never thought possible.

CELL VISION: Which came first, the visual idea or the music?

MARK PALGY: The song came first. I ordered this guitar pedal and it came in the mail and I plugged it in and that first riff that keeps playing throughout just happened organically and I was like YES. I kept listening to it while walking Penny (our hound dog) and I started seeing something visually. That kept happening for a few weeks and I started wanting to write it out. My wife and I sat in her office and wrote it. She really helped get it to a place that made way more sense.

CELL VISION: Many musicians score films, but few direct the films that they score, let alone act in them. As an artist is it more or less challenging to write a piece of music when you’re envisioning a film plot?

MARK PALGY: My goal is John Carpenter, who scored and directed his own stuff. There is nothing I love more than scoring a film. It makes me feel completely fulfilled. I’m in my mid 40s and there isn’t anything “practical” on my resume other than playing bass and making music, which isn’t exactly “viable” these days. It might be the only real job I can ever do, and feel relatively confident that it’ll work and stand up professionally. With scoring it’s nice that someone else did the hard work of developing the plot and characters, so I can step in and do my thing. The Visitor had me wearing many hats. I didn't really set out to be THAT guy that’s the face of everything, but here we are, haha. Directing/producing/acting was wild and I’d be insanely lucky to have the chance to do it again.

"My goal is John Carpenter, who scored and directed his own stuff. There is nothing I love more than scoring a film. It makes me feel completely fulfilled."

CELL VISION: Many musicians score films, but few direct the films that they score, let alone act in them. As an artist is it more or less challenging to write a piece of music when you’re envisioning a film plot?

MARK PALGY: My goal is John Carpenter, who scored and directed his own stuff. There is nothing I love more than scoring a film. It makes me feel completely fulfilled. I’m in my mid 40s and there isn’t anything “practical” on my resume other than playing bass and making music, which isn’t exactly “viable” these days. It might be the only real job I can ever do, and feel relatively confident that it’ll work and stand up professionally. With scoring it’s nice that someone else did the hard work of developing the plot and characters, so I can step in and do my thing. The Visitor had me wearing many hats. I didn't really set out to be THAT guy that’s the face of everything, but here we are, haha. Directing/producing/acting was wild and I’d be insanely lucky to have the chance to do it again.

CELL VISION: In the past, movie soundtracks were just as impactful as albums or movies themselves. I feel like this is something that is lost in the current moment. At the top of my list would be The Crow soundtrack, the Natural Born Killers soundtrack and I actually found out about one of my favorite musicians Bjork from the Tank Girl soundtrack. What is your favorite movie soundtrack?

MARK PALGY: As far as soundtracks, I’d say almost any Tarantino film. As far as original score, Johan Johansson’s score for Mandy was the lightbulb moment for me. I decided then and there even though I’m a bit older to try and jump into a brand new thing; I simply had to. I’m not trying to be Hans Zimmer - I really love the freedom of indie film and doing something more like soundscapes and dissonance than massive orchestration (which is amazing don’t get me wrong).

CELL VISION: What would be your ideal horror movie franchise (or director) to provide the soundtrack for?

MARK PALGY: I would die to be able to do anything for Ari Aster. Or if they continue rebooting the Evil Dead stuff that would be killer!

CELL VISION: In the film The Visitor your character encounters something that is extremely bizarre, mind bending, and horrific to say the least. Have you had any eerie, mysterious experiences in real life? (It’s Halloween, humor us!)

MARK PALGY: The only time I’ve ever seen a ghost (I think!) was when I was a small kid, maybe 6 or 7. I had a nightmare and woke up in my mom’s bed. She was standing next to the bed so I asked her a question and she didn’t answer. She was just standing there in all white, arms crossed, not moving. It was then I heard her call my name from the kitchen. Don’t think I ever hopped and ran out of bed that fast in my life, heart beating out of my chest! We came back to the room and no one was there.

CELL VISION: What are some of your favorite horror films of all time?

MARK PALGY: All time favorite is The Exorcist, followed closely by Hereditary. American Werewolf in London and The Changeling are bangers. There is nothing I love more than watching something scary from the 70s or 80s. I feel like I’m wearing a warm blanket - it’s like a purely Zen thing for me. As odd as it sounds, it’s my happy place.

CELL VISION: Since we are in the spooky season, do you recall the age you were when you came to terms with the harsh reality that you were too old to be trick or treating?

MARK PALGY: I think that realization came out of college, but now that my wife and I are expecting our first kid, I’m gonna have to hit the streets again and I can’t wait! I can eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups by the fistful. And even though this is a divisive subject I will go on record and declare that candy corn is good, actually.

"Even though this is a divisive subject I will go on record and declare that candy corn is good, actually."

CELL VISION: Lastly, what can we expect from De4thrace in the near future?

MARK PALGY: De4thrace productions just shot a music video for an alt country artist who I met in Brooklyn and now lives in Sweden. It was shot entirely on an old vhs recorder and looks absolutely incredible. I think it will be the first ever psychedelic vaporwave country music video! I also have a big batch of songs I’d like to release, and I’m speaking to a friend about doing a buddy road trip horror concept. Hoping I can just stay busy and keep working.

The Visitor will be screening at Zanzabar in Louisville, Kentucky on October 28th and available for all view on October 29th via the De4thrace Youtube Page.

Watch 'The Visitor' On YouTube
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